Tarra was a small, independent harbour- town, where, according to the tradition, Apollo and Artemis took refuge, after Pythos was murdered at Delphi.
Here Apollo fell in love with nymph Akakkalis in poet Carmanora’s home and from their union were born the founders of the city of Elyros, Phylakis and Philandros (Pausanius X, 16.5). Tarra was a town of west Crete, near the opening of Samaria gorge, at the position of the modern settlement Agia Roumeli, at a short distance from the sea, on a hill on the left (eastern) bank of the stream flowing along the Gorge of Samaria.
It was possibly founded in the classical times and was an important religious centre of the Dorians, with many temples and rich offerings. Apollo of Tarra was the main god that was worshipped there. It mainly flourished in the Greco-Roman times. The scattered remains of buildings that were found probably come from the temple of Apollo of Taurus. He founded the homonymous colony in Caucasus. According to literary sources and above all evidence from inscriptions and the study of coins, through the Federation of the Mountains, Elyros, Hyrtakis, Lisos and Poikilassos had a common internal and external for quite a long time, each being autonomous at the same time.
The city was continuously inhabited, from the early archaic times to the Roman times. Although the city was small, it was independent, as it had its own coins, which depicted the Cretan goat on the one side and a bee on the other side, probably suggesting the jobs of its inhabitants. In Tarra there were glass workshops. Tarra was the home of Lucile, who flourished in the 2nd century B.C. and wrote comments on the Argonauts, of Apollonius of Rhodes and of the guitarist Chrysothemis, son of Karmanor, who had won the Pythian Games.
Tarra is among the cities that are mentioned to have signed the treaty of 170 B.C. with Eumenes II of Pergamo. It was abandoned in the Paleochristian period, which was rather due to the change of the commercial routes of the South than to a disaster.
(Authors: Vanna Niniou – Kindeli, Aggeliki Tsingou, archeologists)